Tonight’s garden foraged perennial veggies for an oriental stir-fry!
Lots of Hablitzia (stjernemelde), ground elder (skvallerkål), Svenskelauk (a form of Allium fistulosum), sweet cicely (spansk kjørvel), dandelion (løvetann), day lily shoots (daglilje), blanched horseradish shoots (pepperrot) and a variety of Allium victorialis (victory onion, seiersløk) which is the earliest form I grow along with one from the Kola peninsular in northern Russia; other varieties have hardly grown yet!
In June 2009, I was shown the only naturalised stand of victory onion (Allium victorialis) in south western Norway (away from Lofoten Islands – Vestvågøy – and Bodø area where there are several large populations, possibly a Viking introduction there which has subsequently spread). It’s also found in a damp woodland (which regularly floods in spring) along the Granvinselven (the Granvin river) in south west Norway (see http://www.edimentals.com/blog/?p=10658). It is suggested that the onion came to Granvin by way of the so-called Jektefart (a trade route based on dried fish from Lofoten to western Norway), was planted in a garden close to the site, subsequently naturalising from there!
In late October 2014, there was a major flood in western Norway (https://nn.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oktoberflaumen_i_2014) which caused a lot of damage including in Granvin. Over 200mm rain was recorded over 3 days in several places and up to 330mm! Although not a record, it had already rained a lot for most of October and the ground was already saturated when the worst rain happened…leading to a totally unexpected extreme event.
I heard rumours that the victory onion location had been severely impacted by this event, so when we drove past Granvin on the way back from the Nordic Permaculture Festival in Jondal, I took the opportunity to visit the location! This confirmed that the site is much reduced and there is visible signs of erosion including a dried up channel through the middle of the wooded island where the onion is found (the river was very low due to the drought). In addition, I was surprised to find that a path had been constructed between the river and the school. This is part of a major civil engineering work in Granvin to protect the low lying inhabited areas from flooding (see https://www.nve.no/nytt-fra-nve/nyheter-skred-og-vassdrag/granvin-har-fatt-betre-tryggleik-mot-flaum )
A video showing the completed works https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Keg-BSrAi94 shows aerial views of “victory onion island” between 0:56 – 1:24!
These works may lead to further erosion and destruction of the island….
Seeds were actually already ripe due to the hot summer and I therefore collected seed to safeguard the Granvin onion to be offered to Norwegian Seed Savers (KVANN) through our autumn catalogue which will be produced in October!
From my friend Geir Flatabø: “Jaunssen Gjestgjevarstad (Jaunssen Guest House) in Granvin has begun to harvest / use the onion, and makes pesto served to guests, with good feedback.”
A report from my 2009 “onion safari” to Lofoten, Tromsø and Granvin can be found here (in Norwegian with English comments) http://www.edimentals.com/blog/?p=18527 (some of this material ended up in my book Around the World in 80 plants))
In 2009, I travelled to Lofoten to see the naturalised stands of victory onion (seiersløk) / Allium victorialis in Lofoten, the collection of this species at the botanical garden in Tromsø and also the isolated location at Granvin, south western Norway. The following travel report (with English comments) was distributed to members of Norwegian Seed Savers in 2009 with the title “Victory onion safari”!
I 2011 skrev jeg en serie artikler om vår grønnsaksarven til Norsk Hagetidend. Etter Skog og Landskap sidene ble nedlagt er artiklene ikke lenge tilgjengelig på nettet. Derfor dette innlegget hvor alle artiklene kan igjen bli lastet ned! Artikelene blir også etter hvert lagt ut hos kvann.org (Norwegian Seed Savers/KVANNs webside).
English: In 2011, I wrote a series of one page articles about Norwegian heirloom vegetables in Norsk Hagetidend (the magazine of the Norwegian Horticultural Society) in Norwegian. The complete series can be found below.
Fjellmandel og takløk (Mandel potato and the roof onions of Gudbrandsdal)
In June 2009, I was shown the only naturalised stand of victory onion (Allium victorialis) in south western Norway (away from Lofoten Islands – Vestvågøy – and Bodø area where there are several large populations). It’s found in a damp wood (which regularly floods in spring) along the Granvinselven. Please refer to my book Around the World in 80 plants for more information about this fantastic onion!! This onion can grow both in shady and full sun localities:
The first time my garden was featured in a book was in former Norwegian TV gardener and gardener for the King, Tor Smaaland’s 2004 book “Din drømmehage”. The book was based on Tor’s travels around Norway visiting gardens and their owners. I remember his visit well as he was like a whirlwind almost running around the garden and talking at full throttle…he told me that he was a landscape architect and new little about plants and then he was gone again…so quick was he that I didn’t get a single picture of his visit! Most of the text about the plants was written by me (see pdf at the bottom of this page!).
I loved his amusing description of me and my garden (first in Norwegian below and then translated): «Hage til å spise opp: Som Norges kanskje eneste moderne ikke-munk har engelskmannen Stephen Barstow brukt de siste tiåra på å anlegge et slags fri klosterhage ved Malvik utenfor Trondheim med noe mellom 1500-3000 planter, avhengig av hvordan vinteren har fart over hagen. Her er 30 av hans favoritter – og ganske uventet bruk av dem» ;) (Garden to be eaten up: As perhaps Norway’s only modern non-monk, Englishman SB has over the last 10 years created a kind of free style monastery garden in Malvik outside of Trondheim with somewhere between 1,500 and 3,000 plants, dependent on the ravages of the winter. Here are 30 of his favourites and their rather unexpected uses)
You will notice quite a few of the plants that finally ended up in my book and many of which I now call Edimentals; for example: variegated ground elder (variegert skvallerkål), nodding onion (prærieløk), seiersløk (Allium victorialis), udo (Aralia cordata), giant bellflower (storklokke), daylilies (dagliljer), Hosta, golden hops (gulhumle), Malva (kattost), ostrich fern (strutseving), Bath asparagus (Ornithogalum pyrenaicum), bistort (ormrot), rubber dandelion (gummiløvetann), bulrush (dunkjevle) and nettles (nesle).
Here are a few of my Allium victorialis pictures from the 2014 onion safari to the Lofoten Islands! The aim was to see the naturalised stands of viking onion / seiersløk on the island Vestvågøy, quite possibly a viking introduction…it grows commonly around the Borg viking museum (on the site of an old viking settlement)…much more in my book on this amazingly tasty, healthy, shade-tolerant and productive onion!
The document below is in Norwegian but contains many pictures from my first visit to Vestvågøy in the Lofoten Islands to see the stands of naturalised victory onion (seiersløk), Allium victorialis, including a harvesting trip with Judith van Koesveld (she and her partner Christoph produce a local pesto from the plants). The document also contains an account of a visit to Brynhild Mørkved at the botanical gardens in Tromsø to see the collection of Allium victorialis accessions from different parts of this onion’s extensive range (from the Pyrenees to Japan). Plants vary quite a lot in their form. Finally, I visited Geir Flatabø in Ulvik (Hardanger) in south west Norway and he showed me the large naturalised stand of this plant next to the Granvin river. There are also a few pictures from a collection of heritage ornamentals at the Lofotmuseet and from a visit to a once great but now derelict garden at Finneset (Steinhagen). All pictures were taken in June 2009.